Don’t Fail History, Again!

by Pastor John Kim

History. The one class that most people slept through in junior high, high school, and college. Unless you were a history major (what kind of job could you get with a history major?), history seems like it’s not really of much use when it comes to real life. Or does it? I think that for many people, what is sadly missing is a heart for history that seeks to learn from those who have walked before us. As King Solomon of old wrote in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The lessons that we face today are the same lessons that all had to be faced before. The problem is that we underestimate the importance of gleaning from the lives of those who have succeeded in life as well as those who have failed.

Romans 15:4 says: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

The Scriptures are full of historical instruction that we can and must learn from today if we are to live to the glory of God. For example, we see that many times the nation of Israel, though given explicit instruction, failed to heed God’s Word and as a result suffered the consequences of disobedience. We wonder today at the problems that many face, not realizing that at the heart of many of these problems is an active disobedience to God’s instruction.

If you look at your life, do you realize that you are not alone in the struggles you wrestle with? Many have gone before you and many will still come after you and those struggles remain the same.

Some might say that the Bible is out-dated and should be cast aside in light of today’s more “enlightened” thinking free from its modernist trappings and limitations. But the Bible is not simply a modernist manifesto. It is the Word of God that was written and inspired by God to teach, reprove, correct, and train us to be sufficiently equipped to do the good work that God has called us to.

We need to study history, and more specifically, biblical history. We need to learn the lessons of those who have walked before us. Consider the lesson Adam and Eve had to learn in disobeying God in the garden. Recall the example of Joseph in fleeing the temptations of Potiphar’s wife or in forgiving his spiteful brothers. Remember the cycles of idolatry and deliverance during the times of the Judges. Take a long, hard look at the rebellion of King Saul in offering an incomplete sacrifice, the lust of King David with Bathsheba, and the foolishness of King Solomon taking 1000 women to bed. Learn from the short-sightedness of the disciples as they so often failed to see Jesus for who He really was. Excavate the lessons the early church had to learn as they grew and faced persecution in the book of Acts. Take a magnifying glass to the lives of the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 and see how, despite their shortcomings, they were recognized for trusting in the Lord. The Scriptures are replete with historical lessons to be learned.

We can also learn from those in church history who have applied the biblical truths. The Reformation produced such stalwarts as Martin Luther, John Knox, John Calvin and others. The English Reformation shines brightly with the Marian Martyrs. The Great Awakening presents such faithful servants as George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards who were used powerfully by God for the sake of the gospel. There is much treasure to be found in the Puritans, such as John Owen, Thomas Watson, Richard Sibbes and a multitude of others who applied the Scriptures with such diligence. The great missionary stories of Hudson Taylor, David Livingston, William Carey, Jim Elliot, Amy Carmichael and a host of unsung heroes that many never heard of do much to inspire and challenge us today to continue the work of the Great Commission. Read about courageous preachers like Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and even our contemporary leaders such as John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul who have challenged the church to remember biblical and church history in light of our postmodern age. They give so much for us to gather from that we would be foolish to ignore the history of all that God is unfolding to us, both from the past as well as in the present.

Read the Scriptures and be instructed from the historical lessons that God has so graciously given to us to learn. Read church history and biographies of godly men and women who have walked before us. Learn from their successes as well as their failures. You will not regret the time that is invested in such a worthy pursuit.

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The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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